I know this is a bit of a controversial topic, as many Wives and Daughters fans classify Cynthia, Molly Gibson's charming stepsister, as a villain. Which is why I wanted to write a post defending her. She's a very likable character but quite complex.
Cynthia is a fatherless girl with a troubled past. Her mother was a governess to Lady Harriet after her husband died and Cynthia was sent to school in Europe. She and her mother are not on very good terms, and while Cynthia is disrespectful of her mother, Hyacinth isn't exactly a good mother. She barely knows her own daughter. Cynthia needed her guidance while she was growing up, but living apart from her mother, she didn't get it. When she comes to live with her mother, newly-married to Molly's father, Molly feels sorry for her and the two girls quickly become friends.
Outwardly Cynthia is talkative and charming, but Molly soon realizes that Cynthia is troubled. Molly tries to suppress her own jealousy when her friend Roger Hamley becomes interested in Cynthia and eventually proposes to her. Cynthia accepts him rather lightly and remains rather unaffected when Roger sails for an expedition to Africa. Molly is worried that Cynthia doesn't love him as much as he loves her and tries to warn her, but Cynthia laughs her off.
Eventually, after Molly comes across Cynthia and the squire's land manager Mr. Preston in the middle of a distressing argument, Cynthia breaks down and tells her stepsister the truth: that she had promised to marry Mr. Preston when she was very young in return for his kindness to her, but she soon learned that he was by no means a gentleman and had tried to back out of it. Mr. Preston, who loved her to some degree at least, was determined to hold her to her foolish promise, and when she became engaged to Roger, threatened to disclose her secret to Molly's father. Cynthia was very foolish to make that promise, but Mr. Preston did not act like a gentleman in refusing to free her. Molly become's Cynthia's 'cat's paw' to resolve the matter, paying back Mr. Preston the money he had lent Cynthia and obtaining Cynthia's letters from him. In so doing, Molly becomes the victim of spiteful gossip among the townspeople but bears it willingly for her stepsister's sake.
Cynthia writes to Roger to dissolve their engagement. Despite the fact that she greatly pained Roger by doing that, it was probably best that she did. Eventually she married another gentleman, Mr. Henderson, whom she met in London. Cynthia made some very wrong choices in her life, but I don't consider her as a villain. We all make mistakes and she didn't intend to hurt anybody by her actions. Molly, of course, is the true heroine, but she and Cynthia are good friends and I'm sure remained so after their marriages.
|Cynthia with Mr. Henderson. She has some lovely dresses:-)|